It’s hard to believe that it’s been six full years (today) since I was reporting to work every weekday.
Why hard to believe? Because even though my retirement “schedule” – such as it is – has long been the new normal for me, I still find myself occasionally marveling at the extent of the freedom I have nowadays vs. the relatively tiny amount of time I had to myself and my own projects for all those decades when I was working full-time.
Many of my family members and friends and acquaintances are still working full-time – and some of them at jobs they don’t love as much as I (mostly) loved my jobs in libraries, so I mustn’t gloat. But perhaps I should hope that this posture of gratitude and wonder will never evaporate, no matter how long my retirement lasts.
I’m not sure I have anything new to add to my previous (twelve!) sets of observations of what it feels like to be retired. The most notable semi-recent change in my life – my unexpectedly embarking a few years ago on a relationship with Randy Taylor – could’ve conceivably happened before I retired, so the changes in my routines that have flowed from that relationship can’t really be linked up with retirement – although of course it’s been great that we can do things on weekdays instead of merely weekends, and the vacations we take together (such as our trip last fall to Spain) can be longer than if we were both still working full time.
Otherwise, however, the main thing I like about retirement remains the same as it’s always been: taking a lot more time to do everything than I was able to take before I dropped out of the labor force. It’s not that I do so much, or anything particularly significant or useful, with the extra time I have: what’s basically happened instead is that I have made “piddling around” (inside the house, or out in the yard, or the garden shed) to almost an art form! It’s been a long time since I’ve had to rush off to anything, or to give up doing something I want to do because it conflicted with something else. I’ve learned I’m a lot happier if I’m successful in limiting any obligatory tasks or errands to no more than one per day, and it’s very seldom when circumstances thwart me in that respect. That leaves plenty of time for naps, and, truth be told, some days I take more than one of them!
Most of my post-retirement frustrations or challenges are definitely First World Problems, so I’m having to learn to stop complaining as much as I used to, lest the arched eyebrows of my friends become too pronounced and/or frequent. As long as my good health holds out, I am really blessed in the relative number of burdens I’m bearing or the number of other people’s problems I feel obliged to help resolve.
As for finding ways to further minimizing whatever stress or angst has remained after retiring, I could be even more content than I already am if I were willing to cut back on (or abandon altogether) my screen-staring – and therefore sedentary – computer-using time in general, and in particular curtailing the frequency and duration of checking and reading (and occasionally writing) Facebook screeds. After all, it’s my choice whether or not I expose myself to the lurid tales of every single twist and turn and/or every infuriating statement of our current federal and state politicians. And, to my credit, starting with the turn of the new year, I have to some extent intentionally regulated my Facebook time, with the hoped-for result that I find myself less often angry and/or indignant in 2019 than I was in previous Facebook-checking years. 2018. So curtailing that one habit has been a slight but significant positive recent change in my daily post-retirement routine.
One other sort-of-retirement-related incident: last week Randy and I ran across an affordable largish house on two acres (!) of land just outside of Atlanta that for a few days we pondered putting in a bid for. Both of us have harbored long-dormant fantasies of quitting the city and setting up a semi-rural domicile somewhere, and this place, in many respects – especially considering the asking price – was very tempting. After much discussion, however, we both remembered that, even though I am fully retired and Randy is semi-retired, we are both around 70 years old! Taking care of our respective current abodes is challenging but doable, but coping with maintaining two acres and remodeling a large house? Not as appealing a prospect as if we were in, say, our mid-30s. Our multiple conversations about this potential radical change in our current circumstances were very clarifying, if somewhat sobering.
At any rate, I remain grateful for the resources available to me (and to Randy and me as a couple), and hope the next six years will be as (relatively) care-free as the past six ones have been. Odds are that some aspects of Being Retired will grow even more wonderful and/or precious, while other aspects might get worse – and perhaps even abruptly worse. Today (and thanks in large part, I think, to Randy’s influence), I’m more in the optimists’ camp than in the pessimists’ one when it comes to gazing into the crystal ball of wondering what the next few years of retirement will feel like.